Anthology Film Archives


June 11-17
Actor and filmmaker Pierre Clémenti (1942-1999) was one of the most incendiary and enigmatic figures to emerge from the post-New Wave cinema. The mysterious depths from which his performances emanated imbued films by Luis Buñuel, Bernardo Bertolucci, Philippe Garrel, Miklos Jancsó, and Glauber Rocha with crackling physical intensity, marking him as one of the most sought after and unforgettable actors of his generation. Guided by a fervent belief that cinema, in its relation to the unconscious, was a privileged conduit to the underworld, Clémenti, as critic Philip Azoury once wrote of him, offered himself as “the common ground of all filmmakers tempted by the concept of an original mixture of the sacred and the profane.”

His atavistic quest was undertaken with a circle of close friends that included director Philippe Garrel, actor Jean-Pierre Kalfon, experimental filmmakers Etienne O’Leary and Jackie Raynal, singer Valérie Lagrange, and the painter and filmmaker Frédéric Pardo. Curators of their own myth, they were the self-styled, fashion-obsessed dandies of May 1968, a nomadic group of avant-garde poets, painters, filmmakers, musicians, and actors whose vision found inspiration in the Symbolist poetry of Rimbaud and Verlaine, the intensity of color and detail in the paintings of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and the automatic writing of the Surrealists. Their inward insurrection, abetted by psychotropic drugs, was a spiritual gamble, one which courted madness in an attempt to liberate thought from formulaic expression. Accepting a life that was short and resplendent, Clémenti would carry the burden of their romantic agony, turning down a number of commercial roles to concentrate on directing his own experimental and diaristic films. Anthology Film Archives is pleased to present the first American tribute to the life and work of Pierre Clémenti, screening films which he both directed and starred in, as well as rare shorts and remembrances from friends and collaborators.

Organized in conjunction with Michael Chaiken and Andrea Monti, and with invaluable support from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Very special thanks to Delphine Selles-Alvarez, Sandrine Butteau & Nicole Birmann (Cultural Services of the French Embassy), Balthazar Clémenti, Michel Auder, Nicole Brenez, Philippe Garrel, Peter Emanuel Goldman, Mark McElhatten, Denis O’Leary, Jackie Raynal, Laura Argento (Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – Cineteca Nazionale), Isabelle Daire (Centre Georges Pompidou), Pat Doyen (George Eastman House), Linda Duchin (New Yorker Films), Ross Klein (MGM), Laurence Millereux (Forum des Images), and Anne Morra & Mary Keene (MoMA).

The descriptions by Michael Chaiken, as well as the introduction above, are adapted from his FILM COMMENT article, “Invocation of My Demon Brother” (Fall 2008).

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